Fri | Feb 21, 2020

JLP women vow to defend St Andrew seats

Published:Monday | November 11, 2019 | 12:27 AM

The fight for three Corporate Area seats has intensified, with the top brass of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) yesterday vowing to protect their turf as the People’s National Party (PNP) moves to launch a political attack on them.

St Andrew West Rural, St Andrew East Rural and St Andrew Eastern were won by women representing the JLP – Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, Juliet Holness, the prime minister’s wife, and Fayval Williams – helping to seal a one-seat majority for the Labour Party in the 2016 general election. By-election wins have increased that margin to four in the 63-seat House of Representatives.

However, with the PNP eyeing a return to power, it has made strategic moves in those constituencies, installing popular candidates – Joan Gordon-Webley (St Andrew East Rural), Krystal Tomlinson (St Andrew West Rural) and Venesha Phillips (St Andrew Eastern) – in the hope of clawing them back.

But not so fast, said Eastern St Andrew Member of Parliament Fayval Williams yesterday, lashing her detractors even as she defended her stewardship.

“There is no denying that the Jamaica Labour Party has been good for Jamaica. When you are in St Andrew Eastern, you know, because the roads are smooth as silk. Back Bush has paved roads. Top Range has paved roads. August Town and Standpipe have roads that have been paved. Some of them, the people have not seen paved roads in decades,” said Williams during an Area Council 1 meeting at Mona High School in her constituency.

Tough marginal seat

“We bring water to the people of Goldsmith Villa; they haven’t had a water system in decades, and now the NWC is testing the system they have put in.

“So all the talk the detractors have been talking, trying to tear me down, let me tell them, they can only falla backa me!” she said to loud cheers from bell-ringing supporters.

St Andrew Eastern has been a tough marginal seat, with swathes of middle-class voters who have been a worry for both major political parties.

Yesterday, Kingston Mayor Delroy Williams said the JLP had the seat in its winning column, along with West and East Rural St Andrew. But he had a warning.

“West Rural St Andrew is the easier to win, but we have lost it and regained it. East Rural St Andrew, there is visibility and work being done; we have no problem. But let’s be frank: Of the three, Eastern St Andrew is the most vulnerable, based on history. So I don’t want you to sit back. We cannot lose Eastern [St Andrew] ... . We have to see it as very serious,” Mayor Williams said to cheers.

“We are entering into election year, as far as we think. We can’t look beyond 2020. The prime minister can look beyond then, but we cannot do that. We have to be prepared for 2020,” Mayor Williams, who is a councillor in Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ St Andrew West Central constituency, said.